2023 Hummingbird Migration Report: Warner Parks BIRD Program

October can be a bittersweet month for those of us who love hummingbirds. These amazing creatures, among the tiniest birds in the world, have graced our yards and gardens throughout the summer but are now headed back to Mexico and Central America for the Winter.

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds are the only species of hummingbirds to nest east of the Mississippi and have the largest breeding range of any North American hummer. In Middle Tennessee, we have an influx of hummingbirds in August and September as they migrate from as far away as Canada. This year is our BIRD Program’s 23rd year of banding hummingbirds at the Warner Park Nature Center to help us better understand hummingbirds and their fall migration.

A heavy hummingbird ready for migration. Photo by Terry Cook.

Hummingbird Migration Banding 2023 Highlights

  • We hosted a total of 10 banding sessions with 207 trap hours
  • We captured 143 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Of those:
    • 133 captured were new birds
    • 12 were recaptured birds, 11 of which were captured by us earlier in the season. Our first captured hummingbird this year was on 09 August, first banded on 10 August 2022 as an adult, meaning he is at least 3 years old.
    • 111 were hatch-year birds (33 female and 78 males) and 35 were adult birds (16 female and 19 males)
  • Typical weights are 3.0 grams for males and 3.5 g for females. The heaviest this season was a hatch-year male we first captured on 13 September 2023 at 3.85g, and a week later he weighed 5.58g.
  • The banding session with the most captures was on 06 September with 24 captures.
  • The last observed hummingbird at the Nature Center was on 06 October 2023.
  • Overall, we engaged a total of 989 park visitors during hummingbird banding season!
Noticing the β€˜pom poms’ on this recently banded hummingbird – often an indication it has started to accumulate fat for its migration. Photo by Patty Ghertner.
Gathering the hummingbird feeders at the end of the season. We leave two hummingbird feeders up all winter in hopes of attracting a wintering hummingbird. Photo Laura Cook.

The Hummingbird Celebration on 09 September was a huge success with 750 visitors. A big thank you to Dr. David Pitts for his fabulous presentation on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and to our many partners and volunteers who made it all possible.

A huge thank you to our dedicated team of 13 volunteers and staff for this project: Leah LaRocco, Matt Jenkins, Patty Ghertner, John Kell, Virginia P’Pool, Mary Glenn Williamson, Kim Bailey, Kathy Shaw, Thomas Copeland, Amy Pardo, Gurnoor Majhail, Rachael Payton, Teresa Marchetti, Heather Gallagher, Sandy Bivens, Laura Cook,  Diana McLusky, Vera Roberts, Kassie White, Thomas Copeland, Karen Schneider, Louise Merritt, Robin Cohn, Jenna Atma, Anna Sawyer, Amelia Browning, and Cody Cook.

This research project could not be possible without the dedication and commitment of ensuring clean and full feeders. A huge thank you to our feeder volunteers Devin Bickford, Toni Rogers, Debbie Bright, and Shannon Alpert, and our fabulous summer seasonals and interns!


To learn more about the BIRD Program and bird migration research you can view this pre-recorded webinar, visit us at Warner Park Nature Center during one of our public bird banding sessions, or join us on an upcoming fall migration bird walk.

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